The following sentence applies regardless of when you read this: A famous man has recently been accused of doing sexual things to a woman (or many women) without consent. At the time of this writing, it was a politician’s “groping” scandal but next time it’ll be unwanted dick pics a powerful man sent to an intern, or the spreading of hacked photos of some actress, or a famous athlete getting sued by a woman whose accusations didn’t get anywhere with the police. And, in fact, I bet there isn’t a single female reading this who hasn’t been the victim of that sort of thing.
Well, here’s something you should know: I was taught from birth that this behavior is exactly what women want.
We’re still teaching boys that, every day. Here’s what the lesson plan looks like:
7. “Forcing Yourself On Women Makes Them Love You”
Remember how everyone said it was great that they cast a female star in The Force Awakens, because it’s good for little girls to have role models?
So we all agree that pop culture heroes do influence young people, right? That’s why diversity in casting is so important, all that?
All right, so here’s the first lesson I got on sexual consent. I was six years old. My hero and lifelong role model, Han Solo, approaches a woman who has told him at every opportunity that she’s not interested. Han comes up from behind and presses his body against hers. She’s a strong woman, a fighter, so she physically shoves him off …
Undeterred, Han moves back in, grabs her hands, and starts rubbing them. She says, “Stop that,” and looks nervous. When he doesn’t stop, she clearly says it again. He still doesn’t stop. Romantic music plays …
This exchange follows:
Han: What are you afraid of?
Han: You’re trembling.
Leia: I’m not trembling.
Han: You like me because I’m a scoundrel. There aren’t enough scoundrels in your life.
Leia: I happen to like nice men.
Han: I’m a nice man.
Leia: No you’re not. You’re …
And he kisses her. Note: Her head is pressed up against a metal wall …
… and all of this occurs in a sealed spacecraft floating in the cold vacuum of outer space. Even if she wanted to leave, she couldn’t (because of the implications). The result of this encounter is that she falls in love with this man and they spend the rest of their lives together.
Hi, I’m David Wong, and I’ve been conducting a 40-year experiment on men’s toxic attitudes toward women, mainly by living my life with lots of them swishing around inside my skull.
Now, because I am so unspeakably old, the film I’m referencing above is from the ancient days of 1980. Society has advanced a great deal since then. Hey, did I mention that when I found that clip on YouTube, the ad below it was for the “Sexy Princess Leia Slave Costume”?
I mean, everybody gets this, right? The fantasy isn’t that she’s showing skin; the fantasy is that she didn’t choose to wear that. She’s a princess, she’s regal, she’s a noble warrior … and now we’re going to masturbate to her wearing a humiliating, skimpy costume that she was forced to put on, presumably under the threat of death by rancor.
But back to the groping thing. I’d estimate that 95 percent of the action movie cool guy role models of my youth molested women into loving them at least once. James Bond did it in … every movie, I think? In Goldfinger (1964), he rapes Pussy Galore in a barn, which causes her to abandon her life of crime and join his side. In The Mask Of Zorro (1998), a woman tries to kill Antonio Banderas, and in response, he strips her naked with his blade and forces a kiss. As a result, they fall in love.
Actually, rather than recount the thousands and thousands of examples of the “Assault Them Until They Love You” seduction method, I’m going to prove how prevalent this is by rattling off a list of examples using only Harrison Ford’s filmography:
In Blade Runner (1982), he slams a woman (or female replicant) against a wall after she tries to leave, and then forces her to say “Kiss me.” She acts terrified, right up until they start having sex.
In Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom (1984), Ford snatches a fleeing woman with his whip and yanks her back to him. They fall in love.
In Indiana Jones And The Last Crusade (1989), he forces a kiss, the woman pulls away and says, “How dare you kiss me?” and then kisses him back, passionately.
Long before I was old enough to date or even had female friends, it was made more than clear: In any relationship, men are the predators, women are the prey. Their expressions of fear and rejection — including defensive physical attacks — are a coy game to be overcome, like a tricky clasp on a bra.
6. “Asking Permission Is A Sign Of Weakness”
If you’re wondering, no, I’ve never in my life groped a woman who didn’t grope me first. This is not because I was a gentleman who cared about consent. If you’d cornered me in high school and asked me why I hadn’t just grabbed a girl at a party and made her kiss me, I’d have said it was because I wasn’t cool enough, or hot enough. “I’d have to lose weight and make the football team to do something like that!” See, I was told that the ones who held back until they had permission were the pussies, the cowards, the nerds.
That was told to me both by people in my life and by lots of the movies and shows I saw back then. Here’s a screencap from one sitcom from back in the day of a girl saying, “There’s nothing less sexy than a dude asking if he can kiss you.”
And when I said that show aired “back in the day” I of course meant fucking 2012. That’s from an episode of New Girl. For every “No Means No” PSA I’ve come across, I’d say I’ve encountered, oh, about 10,000 messages saying/implying that nothing is sexier than a guy who doesn’t wait for consent.
Sure, I get what the female actress voicing the words of some male writers was trying to say there: that girls like guys who are attentive enough to know what she wants before she says it. He shouldn’t need to be told why she’s mad at him, or what she’d like for her anniversary, or whether or not she’s ready for the next step. Emotional intelligence is sexy, and there’s nothing sexier than a guy who cares enough to pay attention to the subtle cues.
You know, the way Han Solo knew that Leia secretly wanted him to back her into a corner and force himself on her. The way he was able to detect that all of her many prior rejections and coldness was all a test to find out if he could see past the facade.
5. “Women Like To Be Pursued, And Thus Always Play ‘Hard To Get'”
If you went back and found me at the age when I realized I knew absolutely everything — 20 — and asked me to explain gender roles, here’s what I’d have told you:
In this modern world, the quality of a woman’s life is overwhelmingly dependent on what kind of man she can attract — a woman married to a capable man is simply going to have a higher standard of living, period. Her self-worth is thus based largely on how desirable she is to men, and on how many men are pursuing her at any given moment. The need for more suitors is due to the law of supply and demand. It is to her advantage to create competition by tempting as many men as possible, then making it difficult for any single one to gain her attention.
Thus, women gain power through rejecting men, and those rejections have nothing to do with how they truly feel.
“Hmm, you’re right. My disinterest in you emotionally, physically, and mentally has been an excuse. Make sex to me. Make sex to me right now!”
This, I’d have said, is also the reason most “slut shaming” comes from other women. If a female hops in bed with any guy who comes along, it lowers the value of female attention/sex for all women. The price of gasoline would drop pretty fast if one supplier started giving it away. So, much like OPEC, women culturally collude to keep the value of sex and female companionship high by making it artificially difficult to acquire it. This is why Princess Leia’s wealthy, royal peers would disapprove of her spreading her legs for a “scoundrel.”
Conversely, Han Solo is a hero precisely because he sees through this artifice, and knows exactly how to confidently stride past those barriers. The primary attractive traits in males are physical strength and aggressiveness, and he knows that Leia’s feigned resistance is a test of those attributes. You can see the full sequence in each of the clips I linked earlier: The female fights, the male demonstrates his physical superiority, and the female acknowledges his suitability as a mate and willingly gives in. “You have proven you are strong enough to have me.”
And dammit, this is how it really worked back in the good old days, when men were men and women were women! Like in that famous photo from V-E day, in which the heroic fighting man celebrates the end of the war by kissing the first beautiful broad he sees!
Wait, you knew they were strangers, right? Now look at this photo taken a split second before. See how she playfully pretends she’s not into it? Wow, what a good actress!
Ha, her little clenched fist is adorable! And look at all the approving smiles of the crowd behind them — men and women alike, agreeing this is wholesome fun.
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